ONE Chinese national is to be deported to the USA, while another has been remanded in custody, following a police investigation into illegal immigration in Enniskillen last weekend.
At approximately 6.45pm on Friday night, January 22, police attended the Ruby Palace Chinese restaurant on Belmore Street where they arrested a man who was working in the kitchen, Zu He Wen (39).
Wen’s arrest prompted a search of the restaurant owner’s house on Crest Road, Enniskillen, where they found 59-year-old grandmother Xiuhua Zhang. Both defendants appeared at a special sitting of Omagh Magistrates Court on Saturday, where they were charged with overstaying their UK visas.
Omagh court heard that Wen had previously been deported to the South, but had said he returned to the North as the southern immigration authorities did not provide him with food and his accommodation was poor.
The court was told Wen, who was not legally represented in court, was a flight risk as he had no documents.
District Judge Meehan remanded him in custody to appear before Enniskillen Magistrates Court on February 1.
With regard Zhang, the court was told the 59-year-old had flown from New York to Belfast along with her young grandson on October 1 to visit her daughter, who has a business in Enniskillen. Zhang, who has a green card for the US and had a return ticket to New York for March 25, had a visa to visit the UK, however that visa expired on January 6.
Zhang was remanded in custody over the weekend, and appeared at Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Monday via video link from Hydebank Prison.
The court was told Zhang, who was assisted in court by an interpreter, and her family had mistakenly thought her six-month UK visa ran from when she entered the country, rather than from its date of issue. Her defence solicitor told the court the family had even sought the advice of an immigration lawyer in Belfast who told them this was the case.
The solicitor added that their confusion was added to by the fact Zhang’s grandson’s visa ran from when he entered the country as he was a US citizen.
He also said that when Zhang, who was tearful during her appearance, had also told immigration authorities at Belfast airport that she intended on returning at the end of March and they did not raise any issue.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said while immigration laws were important rules and regulations, breaching which would normally carry a custodial sentence, he accepted that it in this instance the breach was a genuine mistake by Zhang.
Judge Broderick imposed a 12-month conditional discharge on Zhang, who was due to be deported on Thursday.
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition